Sunday, May 31, 2015

Meet the Characters - Spectacle

Time to play the who I'd cast for the movie game!!! See my choices for Spectacle below.



 It's no secret that I'm a Walking Dead fan, but I didn't intentionally fashion Mira around the actress who plays Beth in the wildly famous zombie series on AMC, she just happens to favor her. I did, however, immediately think of Emily Kinney when I considered who I'd want to play Mira if the book ever made it to the big screen. Ha! I can dream, right? Though she's half Changer, Mira is fair-skinned with light blue eyes and blonde hair. She also exudes innocence with undercurrents of strength. Emily would be a perfect fit.

(Mira's best friend)
 Changers by nature are tall and broad with olive skin and dark hair/ eyes. They're also gorgeous. Slap some dreads on a tanned Gregg Sulkin and he'd be a perfect fit. Not to mention those lips!!!
Excuse me while I drool.

Jackson/ Jacks
(Mira's other best friend)
Dark, messy hair, glasses and a sweet disposition, Asa Butterfield is my number one pick!!!

(Luxxe's best friend)
 Tyler Posey screams Cole - he has those typical Changer traits, squinty eyes and... well, he looks pretty dang good with his shirt off.
(Luxxe's not-so-likable girlfriend)
She's nauseatingly striking with dark hair and piercing eyes. Lucy Hale, you'd be my ideal Taylor!!!

 (Mira's human love interest)
Mira describes him as having cropped dark hair, green eyes and bushy eyebrows. She's also so drawn to him that she hates herself for it. But look at him... can you blame her? Dave Franco would rock the role of Garrett.

Like who I picked? Do you have someone else in mind for the role of Mira, Luxxe or Jacks? Leave a comment below! I LOVE to hear from my readers!!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cover Reveal - The Fading Dusk by Melissa Giorgio

Release Date: July 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Here's the Summary:
In the gritty city of Dusk, seventeen-year-old Irina makes her living as the street magician Bantheir’s assistant. The job isn’t glamorous, but she loves the crowds, the shows, and most of all, the illusion of magic. But Irina’s world is shattered the night she is arrested and charged as Bantheir’s accomplice to murder—murder by magic.
Real magic, the kind that’s been forbidden since the old wars.
Irina finds the idea of flashy showman Bantheir using actual magic to kill someone laughable, but she’s the only one who sees how ridiculous the claim is. But how can she convince everyone Bantheir is innocent when they’ve already made up their minds? Desperate, Irina must decide who she can trust to help her win her freedom. Is the surly, handsome Captain Leonid telling the truth when he says he believes Irina is innocent, or is he just using her to get to Bantheir? What about Aden, the sweet soldier and longtime fan of Irina’s who claims he’s on her side?
Irina said she wanted to know the truth, but when she stumbles across a dark secret that changes everything, will she be strong enough to survive?
About the Author:
Melissa Giorgio is a native New Yorker who graduated from Queens College with a degree in English. She's always dreamed of being a writer and has been creating stories (mostly in her head) since she was a little girl. Also an avid reader, Melissa loves to devour thick YA novels. When not reading or writing, she enjoys watching animated films, listening to music by her favorite Japanese boy band, or exploring Manhattan.

The Sight Seer, published June 12th 2013 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly, is the first book in the Silver Moon Saga. In November of 2013, An Autumn Dream, a Silver Moon Saga novella that takes place between books one and two was published. The Soul Healer, the second book in the series, was published in April of 2014. A Promise of Magic, the second novella in the Saga, was published in November of 2014.

Look for the final book in the series, The Shadow Stealer, February 27th, 2015!
Connect with Her:


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Author's Corner - Polishing Your Manuscript, Post Two: Tighten and Tone

(To start with Post One of Polishing Your Manuscript, click here!)

No, I'm not into the wine again and have gotten confused about my writing topic lol; I'm not referring to exercise. With "tighten and tone" I'm referring to sharpening your prose.

So you've read and re-read your novel, gotten feedback from others and made the changes you deem necessary, and now you're ready to make sure all that hard work is fit for public consumption. Well, almost fit for public consumption. After tightening and toning I still send it off to my editor, Lana. But whether or not you're planning on using an editor, this stage of polishing your manuscript is crucial because... well, because you want to have a readable product that isn't wordy, redundant or brimming with those nasty little weak words.

Let's start with wordiness. I can be guilty of this. We all can. Sometimes we try and explain things in three sentences when it should only take us one. Or we'll tack on a redundant sentence when it isn't necessary. As a general rule I try and hack paragraphs down when I can. For instance, the passage below is one from my Spectacle, my newest novel, before I got rid of the extra sentence:

Feeling antsy and suffocated, I pace beside the window. I haven’t been indoors this long in years. I already long to breathe fresh air. Put my fingers in the soil. Touch something green and living. Everything here is manmade and cold, and the air is stagnant. I need to get out"
"I need to get out" is redundant because it's stating the obvious and isn't needed. Granted, this didn't shorten the paragraph to a notable degree, but axing sentences (or parts thereof) here and there can make an overall difference with your prose.

Next, let's talk about a different type of redundancy. When I say my characters mutter or mumble sigh, shake their heads or sneer or snap, I try and keep it as spaced out and minimal as I can. There's nothing more irritating to me than reading a novel where the character is always mumbling, or one of the only ways the author expresses the character's disagreement is with a head shake. Now, I get that certain characters might scowl more than others because of their personality type, but if it's ten times a chapter, lets figure out other ways to show their disgust to keep from making me want to throw the book across the room. OR, just say that a character constantly wears a scowl plastered on their face when we first meet them and it won't be necessary to repeat it all the time.

Also, I find it useful to perform a search of the words below and make sure I'm not repeating the same descriptions over and over in my manuscript. For instance, search the word "heart" and make sure you didn't say their heart "dropped" or "raced" or "leapt from their chest" too many times. And when you do search the word and realize you have twenty-five instances where you said the character's heart raced, replace some of them with their hearts galloping or hammering etc. so you can mix it up a little, or even find other ways to show that they're freaking out or getting nervous.
Here's my personal list:


Speaking of word searches, that brings me to my last tightening and toning topic: weak words! Some of these you'll want to make sure you delete from your manuscript completely, others you'll want to make sure you use sparingly but aren't necessarily a cardinal sin. But let's start with the cardinal sins of weak words, shall we?

Very.  Never ever use this word. Ever. Nobody is "very tired" or "very excited." They're "exhausted" or "thrilled." The only reason "very" should be in your manuscript at all is if it's in the dialogue of a three-year-old. "That horsey is very pretty, mommy." Even then I kind of hate it. lol

Stuff. How incredibly blah and lazy it is to use the word stuff. Be specific. "She squirreled away her notebook, pens and binoculars into her duffle bag." Not just her stuff.

Things. This is pretty much the same as using stuff. Don't be lazy!

Got. She got sick. He got the cereal from the cabinet. They got bored. No! She's "feverish and achy." He "snatched" the cereal from the cabinet or "swiped" it when no one was looking. They were "crippled with boredom." Anything but "got."

On to the words to use sparingly.

Began and started. You hear this advice all the time with these two words: nobody started running, or it didn't start raining. They're either running or they're not. It's either raining or it's not. Same thing for began. Instead, say the rain fell in heavy sheets across the yard. Or he launched into a sprint. Way better, right? I still see "start" and "began" used from time to time, though, and I'm guilty of using in it my own writing. Just try not to use it excessively.

Big, small, long and short. Again, I still use these every now and then. "He winked a big blue eye at me." "Her long lashes grazed his cheek as they hugged." But I've seriously read a novel where when the author was describing a house room by room, and she kept saying "long" black table, "big" silver mirror, "small" ornate vase, "long" sheer drapes. Again with the laziness!!! Find better descriptions. "Antique table that spread the length of the room." "Silver, floor-length mirror." "Vase with delicate, hand-painted flowers." "Sheer curtains framed the window and pooled in soft pink puddles against the tiled floor."

Here are other words to use sparingly (and I have a tendency to overuse):


That's all for today!!! Love to all.



Is your manuscript where you want it? What about your promotional materials? They're important too! Find me on Fiverr to help with anything from proofreading to formatting your eBook for publication.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review - These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Release Date: December 10th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Where to Buy:
Here's the Summary:
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they're worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other's arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won't be the same people who landed on it. The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.
My Review:
The Good:
Okay, so I know I'm a little late to the party on this one. These Broken Stars came out about a year and a half ago, and anyone with a functioning set of eyeballs had to stop and take second look at the book with that. gorgeous. cover. Not only that, but the summary promises us a nerve-wracking survival-type story on a deserted planet with a side helping of romance between two teenagers from two very different backgrounds. Yes, please!!! I can't believe it took me this long to get to it. For shame!!!
First, I'll start by saying that as far as the writing goes, I'm not worthy! Every sentence/ paragraph/ chapter is beautifully crafted and poetic. Ms. Kaufman and Ms. Spooner have a way with descriptions that leave you in awe with a serious twinge of jealousy. lol Even so, reading prose like this is what helps us budding authors spiral into full bloom. I'll definitely be reading more of their work.
Second, I'm sure this comparison has been made before, but there were obvious nods to Titanic in this novel. If it was unintentional, I'd be thoroughly surprised. You have a redheaded socialite (Lilac) with a controlling parent, and her love interest is a handsome kid from a common background (Tarver), albeit, instead of a wayward sketch artist like in Titanic, he's a decorated war hero at the young age of eighteen. But you see the similarities there. And in the beginning, they meet on a fancy space ship which has practically been deemed un-crashable and one of their finest ships yet, which, you guessed it!!! Ends up crashing. Except in this story, the romance happens after said crash, not before.
Third! The romance. I'm a sucker for complicated love at first sight. But let me take a moment to clarify - not complicated as in the guy is an *sshole  and the girl falls for him anyway because he's oh-so-hot and she just can't help it. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL GIRLS EVERYWHERE - it is NOT love when a guy treats you like crap and humiliates you, even when he has rock-hard abs and a killer smile. Ever. Stay away and find a guy who adores and respects you. Nuff said. Now that that's out of the way, I mean complicated as in she fears it may not work between them because of her overbearing, manipulative father, so even though there was an initial attraction, she keeps him at a distance to spare both her and Tarver. And because she keeps him at an emotional distance, he thinks she doesn't really like him because of his upbringing and thinks he's not good enough. But don't worry, they have time as they journey across a deserted planet to figure things out. And when their guards finally drop and they give in to each other, it's sweet and steamy and beautiful.
Lastly, there's the well-crafted suspense. So Tarver and Ms. Lilac crash on a deserted planet. The crash itself has you gripping onto the book (or in my case, Kindle) for dear life, even though you know they have to make it or else the book would be about one person trying to survive alone until they find a way to get rescued. And this story doesn't have Tom Hanks or a volleyball named Wilson, so we pretty much know they both survive the landing. But the scene of said crash is so well written it's hard not to tense up as you're reading. After the crash landing, you have a deserted planet with beasts in the woods and weird whispering beings, and the characters suffer hallucinations, near starvation and hypothermia. Then one of them gets sick and it's a race to help them before they die. THEN, at the end, something dreadful and unbelievable happens, and I absolutely refuse to speak more of it because I don't want to give anything away, but how it's rectified is horrifying and wonderful and just plain amazing.
The Bad:
There were a few places where the story dragged, even with all the suspense, surprisingly, but one could argue that they were key moments for character development so I won't take away a whole star for that. Just a half of one. :)
The Ugly:
Nothing to say in this category.
In conclusion, if you're in need of a well-written suspenseful romance, READ THIS BOOK. You don't even have to be a Science-Fiction lover to enjoy it.
Favorite Quote: “For a moment the image before us is frozen: our world, our lives, reduced to a handful broken stars half lost in uncharted space. Then it's gone, the view swallowed by the hyperspace winds streaming past, blue-green auroras wiping the after-images away.

Until all that's left is us.”  
About the Authors:
Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling author of of two young adult science fiction trilogies. She had the good fortune to be raised just one block from her local library, and took full advantage of that fact growing up. She and her sister spent their childhood summers re-creating their favorite books by camping in the back yard, mapping their neighborhood, climbing trees, stepping through magical doors and sailing the local seas.

Raised in Australia and Ireland, she has kissed the Blarney stone six times, thoroughly cementing her gift of the gab. She now lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and her rescue dog. She still sails, and though she climbs fewer trees, she remains partial to investigating the occasional magical door.
Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She's traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there's a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there's no telling how long she'll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Music Crush Monday - Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Happy Monday, my lovelies!!! This new song by Rachel Platten means so many things to me at the moment, but when I first heard it I thought of Mirabella. She’s basically been through hell and back, yet she remains courageous and fearless when it comes to doing what’s right and protecting the ones she loves. I'm adding it to my Spectacle playlist pronto!!!

PS- LOVE that stars are in the background of the lyric video. If you've been reading my Spectacle web series, you'll  know why this is all so perfect.

Have a listen. 


Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway - Under Dark Skies by A.J. Scudiere

Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Genre: Adult Paranormal Thriller
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Where to Buy:

Here's the Summary:

In NightShade nothing is as it seems . . .

Eleri Eames didn’t think she’d ever be allowed to work for the FBI again, so the special FBI division of NightShade seems like an amazing opportunity. But all too soon, her chance to start over starts to disturb her.

When the FBI offers Donovan a chance to leave his job as a medical examiner and try his hand at something new, he takes a chance on the NightShade division. Somehow, he has to try to escape from his shadows, but can he trust Eleri with the truth?

Thrown together on their first case, Eleri and Donovan must deal with a charismatic cult leader and his true-believers. The cult is mixed up with several decade-old kidnapping cases and the missing daughter of a prominent FBI Agent. As Eleri and Donovan dig deeper, they discover that NightShade’s mysteries aren’t coincidence.

Their secrets will save them . . . or destroy them.

My Review:

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Good:

The character development. I can't stress to authors enough how important this is!!! I felt like Eleri and Donovan were real people I could eventually meet one day. I know about their upbringings, what makes them tick, their strengths, weaknesses, how they interact in social situations... even what they like to eat. Some readers might see this overkill, that it makes the story drag in places, but when done right, building your characters into believable, relatable people is what makes readers invest in a story. Because when readers feel like they know the characters, they care what happens to them, and I love these characters enough that I'll be impatiently waiting the next book in the series! And that ending!!! Hopefully Book Two will pick right up where it left off.

The writing. While her writing can be a bit wordy in places, Ms. Scudiere has a way with descriptions. She inserts you right into the scenes and you experience everything as the character does. For specific examples within the story, when Eleri feels betrayed by Donovan, you feel betrayed. When Donovan goes on his runs *wink* you're right there with him. When they're both exhausted and malnourished and spread thin while they're trying to solve the case, you'll feel as if you need a power nap and a dose of vitamins to keep going.

The storyline. It's obvious that the author took the time to plot out a meticulous storyline with little twists and turns along the way. When an author plots everything out down to the smallest of details, and executes it flawlessly, I feel like that story is worth my time. Nothing ruins my reading mojo like a sloppy story rife with plot holes and inconsistencies. Yet another reason why this book with grab hold of you, pull you beneath the surface and won't let go until the end.

The Bad:

While Ms. Scudiere has all the details covered in Under Dark Skies, I did feel a sense that something was missing. In thrillers and mysteries, I look for grit and tension. The story delivered in the suspense category, and yes, I felt like I was a part of the story, but sometimes I found myself wanting more. There were no major twists, no major difficulties, and other than the one betrayal (and quick forgiveness) there was no major tension with any of the main characters. I kept thinking, "oh, here's where they'll learn that they were wrong about who's responsible for the killings." Or, "here's where this person will also be involved, but they didn't see it to begin with." Or, "here's where an attraction will happen." Or, "here's where they'll find something horrifying and it will knock me on my butt." Nothing like that really happened.

I will add, though, that the ending was satisfying, and all the things I'd been craving throughout the story I found a little bit of in the end. So I wouldn't say the the story didn't deliver at all in the grit and tension departments, just not as much as I prefer. Of course, it could just be a matter of personal preference.

Also, if you're expecting any kind of romance/ attraction/ lovemaking in any capacity between the opposite sex POV characters, or with any other characters for that matter, you've been forewarned that there is zilch. Not saying this is necessarily a bad thing - romance doesn't necessarily have to be in a story for me to enjoy it. Afterall, my favorite movie is Kill Bill lol - but just wanted to let readers know in case they're hoping for it.

The Ugly:

Nothing to say in this category.

In conclusion, if you're looking for a character-driven paranormal thriller with a good helping of suspense, then Under Dark Skies is for you!!!

Favorite Quote: 

Eleri didn't hate much. She knew people got into bad things, knew that most people were either too stupid to know what they were getting into or just got tangled and struggled their way deeper and deeper into their problems. But this man in front of her? Eleri hated him.

About the Author:

After not making the advanced reading group in kindergarten, AJ decided to 'show them all!' and become the best reader possible. This led to reading "The Amityville Horror," "Flowers in the Attic," and "Carrie" all before the age of seven. By eight, armed with a pen and notebook, she'd gone to the other side and written a novella . . . which shall never again see the light of day. As the daughter of a physicist and a lawyer, AJ always wants to make sure the stories 'work': by the time you get to the end, you'll realize you were holding all the pieces all along. AJ is the author of multiple award-winning suspense novels.

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